Jaylon Smith is headed to the NFL. The junior Notre Dame linebacker made the announcement in a special Youtube video today.

“It’s really just perseverance for me, with the adversity I’m going through right now, dealing with the knee injury. I have the same vision. It’s just a different path. I’m just really looking forward to this opportunity.”

Smith was dominant this year at Notre Dame having six games with double digits tackles. The Notre Dame standout won the 2015 Butkus award and was thought to be a top 5 pick in April’s draft. Unfortunately Smith tore his ACL in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State and his draft stock tumbled. He had knee surgery last week and from it appears to have been successful.

Todd Gurley showed last year that you can bounce back from an ACL injury. The Rams running back was one of the best running backs last year rushing for over 1,100 yards in his first year in St. Louis after tearing his ACL at Georgia.

It’s hard to say where Smith will go in the draft. Before the injury he was a slam-dunk top five draft choice. Now, it’s really hard to say but someone will take a chance on him in the mid to late first round. New Orleans sitting at #12 could grab the former Irish linebacker to bolster their defense. The Saints need a lot of help on the defensive side of the ball and Smith could be a star in the Big Easy if he gets healthy and plays up to his potential.

Smith will be out of action for approximately nine months but could come back sooner in a best case scenario. He won’t be able to workout for teams but his career at Notre Dame will be enough to get someone to draft him in the first round.